Apr 2, 2009

Knock, Knock- Chancellor Rhee, Anybody There ?

It's time for a counter contract proposal from Rhee that's good for students and fair to teachers. This line is taken from the WTU buttons and yard signs recently displayed by teachers, parents, DC and suburban residents.

At this point, DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee and WTU President, George Parker will enter a little over 20 months and counting of bargaining for a teacher contract here in Washington DC. On January 31, 2009- WTU President George Parker submitted a Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) contract proposal along with the assistance of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to Chancellor Rhee's office for review. So far no counter proposal from Michelle Rhee. If we believe what we read in the DC Wire, Rhee stated the proposal looked favorable in February. However, in later reports Rhee claimed many of the WTU's contract proposal recommendations as her own. Go figure.

We just passed the two month waiting mark on March 31st. The kind of stalling tactics on display by Rhee seem intentional and could be designed to make DC students, teachers and the WTU wait as long as it takes for Queen Rhee to offer a counter proposal I suppose.

A little birdie told me that Rhee is not talking directly to Parker anymore even though Parker is the WTU's Chief Negotiator. I guess you could call Rhee's technique distance bargaining, bargaining put on hold, bargaining gone on vacation, too busy to bargain, or I'll show you whose in charge bargaining- just to name a few. To me one of the most crucial issues is that these two must communicate with each other and the WTU negotiating team not just through Rhee's subordinates. Leaving the WTU negotiating team out of the loop and demonstrating an unwillingness to collaborate is just no way to conduct labor negotiations .

Rhee continues to toy with us, by suggesting that the hefty privately funded pay raises promised to teachers is still an option despite recent statements to the contrary by Chief Financial Officer (CO) Natwar Gandhi in the news. Mr. Gandhi indicated that the DC government CANNOT GUARANTEE private funding for teacher raises.

Rhee can continue to stall us at the negotiation table. After all Rhee makes well over $275,000 with bonuses and perks. Not to mention that she knows that our union buttocks are in a proverbial sling pending the mayoral appointment and city council confirmation of two long awaited Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) appointees. Even if both sides were to agree to go to impasse- PERB has only 1 member and union cases aren't being heard.

Knock, knock Chancellor Rhee- anybody there ? It's time for a counter offer. Better answer the door- because we're not going away ! (Posted by The Washington Teacher).


Olive Tree Guitar Ensemble said...

Hi, it's a very great blog!
I could tell how much efforts you've taken on it.
Keep doing!

The Washington Teacher said...

Thanks for the compliment- Olive Tree ! Thanks for stopping by too.

Anonymous said...

Our beloved union took the better part of 6 months to make this counteroffer, and only after a handholding session with the AFT, so complaining because Rhee hasn't responded after 2 months is a little silly.

I like your blog generally, but I think you are a bit off base here. I wish she would counter or at least start negotiating (and I agree with some of your complaints about her negotiating style).

jmannii said...

But anonymous, if Rhee agrees with so many of the ideas in the counterproposal, why wouldn't she respond more promptly?

I believe she could us teachers something, even if it's just to maintain the hope and support of teachers who already back her. Dragging her feet just because the union dragged their feet would be awful silly reasoning.

jmannii said...

Sorry for the error.

I meant to say, "I believe she could GIVE us teachers something (by way of a response)" rather than keeping us waiting.

Wyrm2 said...


I don't disagree that she should respond more quickly, and I don't know what she isn't acting faster. If she wants to have this new system in place, she is going to have to act fast if she wants it in place for the coming school year.

I just think that it is unreasonable to critize her for her failure to act quickly when the union has so abjectly failed to act quickly on the contract.

There are plenty of things to criticize Rhee for (and I sort of support her) but I just don't think this is one of them.

jmannii said...

Maybe some of us spoke too soon. The robocall tonight (Sunday) stated that Rhee submitted a response to WTU on Friday. Now, it's WTU's turn.

The Washington Teacher said...

Hi Jmannii. I think you mean now its WTU President George Parker's turn since the WTU negotiating team has been bypassed in the negotiation process.

What is of concern are the comments made by Dena Iverson, Rhee's spokesperson in my latest blog entry.